Page 14 - Print21 July-Aug 2018 Magazine
P. 14

People in print
Against the wind
The altered landscape of the commercial printing industry in Australia has seen a drop in the number of companies enrolled as members of the Printing Industries Association of Australia. The peak body has struggled to find a new identity as successive boards turned a blind
eye to the inevitable decline of its membership. The simple fact is, there are a lot fewer printing companies today. Andrew Macaulay, CEO, was brought in to pick up the pieces after a self-destructive spat three years ago. Even as he stabilises the ship, he harbours no illusions about the job ahead. He spoke with Patrick Howard.
Change is difficult. Despite champions from the motivation industry urging us to ‘love change,’ most
of us find it challenging. We prefer to sit tight rather than
disrupt, go with the flow rather than swim against the tide. And it’s not just individuals but organisations, too, that often avoid taking the tough decisions to change until it’s too late. To Andrew Macaulay, the paralysis that dominated the decision-making of the Printing Industries Association of Australia for over a decade brought the peak body to the brink of disaster. Only a crisis of governance and finance in 2015 broke the logjam and unleashed a flood that is still sweeping through today.
“It’s certainly been an eventful
few years. It seems we made every mistake an organisation should not do. Printing Industries is a venerable institution, but it’s been living well beyond its means for at least ten years. It was suffering from dissension in the elected leadership, a failure to engage with the membership and a decade-long refusal to change a failing business model,” he says.
As a new CEO, the man brought in to right the ship at a time of crisis,
Macaulay has had a bumpy ride.
He’s made enemies, downsized the organisation, closed state-based offices, endured two years of swinging financial losses, and revamped the governing board of directors. You don’t do that without getting people offside. But he presents with the air of an individual who believes in the necessity of confronting what he terms as “the years of neglect.”
Reversing gross financial neglect
“When change is no longer possible to avoid, it becomes extremely difficult and painful. Some individuals were pining for the past, for a golden age that has long gone, if it ever existed. They became an utter distraction, obstacles to the progress of the Association. There was gross financial neglect and a failure to manage succession planning or governance.”
Macaulay is keenly aware that many people who volunteered their time and services over the years left the Association, burnt out by the internecine warfare at board level. Embedded cost structures were
a battlefield; staff numbers were maintained at an unsustainable level. There was a stubborn refusal to accept the consequences and causes of falling membership, or modern operating dynamics. So, when the crunch came in 2015, Macaulay, who was subsequently appointed by a full board, took decisive action.
“We had to absorb all the costs at one hit. It was frustrating to have to do all the restructuring in a couple of years. In 2016 we lost nine hundred thousand dollars; in 2017 it was eight hundred thousand. It involved a
massive restructuring, and the prior decade of not addressing change meant when it came, it could not be done incrementally. Successive boards should have made minor changes over the course of the decade but were stopped by disruptive feuding, with some members recognised for their obstruction. Now, eventually,
it has occurred at enormous cost in terms of dollars.
“But I’m a great believer that out of adversity comes opportunity. We’ve staunched the blood flow and are looking towards a period of stability. We’re on track to turn Printing Industries into a profitable and sustainable association. We’ll get damn close this year.”
New blood and experience
Nothing demonstrates the changed era at Printing Industries better
than the make-up of the board. An influx of new blood has altered the dynamics of the Association, and Macaulay rates this transformation as one of the most significant changes. He points to the appointments of Sarah Leo of Openbook Howden representing South Australia, John Georgantzakos, a director of Sydney- based web printer Spot Press, for NSW, and Anthony Pittaway of digital printer Discus on Demand for WA,
as bellwethers of change.
Walter Kuhn of Kuhn Print for
Queensland is chairman. National director Chris Segaert is engaged at Macaulay’s request in conducting
a root-and-branch review of the Association’s constitution, which has glaring anomalies from the law that the Registered Organisations Commission has recommended
Left: “We’re the unsung heroes of the economy.” Andrew Macaulay.
14 Print21 JULY/AUGUST 2018

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